Jodi Picoult on Wonder Woman

by Jeff

From the Brisbane Times:

Shortlisted for author of the year at the 2007 British Book Awards, the book trade’s Oscars, Jodi Picoult studied creative writing at Princeton University and has written a bestseller almost every year since her 1992 debut, Songs Of The Humpback Whale. Two have been made into TV movies and My Sister’s Keeper, about a girl conceived as a bone marrow match for her elder sister with leukaemia, is in development with Hollywood’s New Line Cinema.

Her next novel, Change Of Heart, will get to grips with the death penalty, organised religion and politics, but before then you will see her hand in Wonder Woman. DC Comics asked Picoult to write five issues of the comic book adventures of the Amazonian princess – a job her children wouldn’t let her turn down. The first is out now and Picoult tells fans in her monthly Pi-Cult newsletter: “It was great fun to write her (and I’m hoping they let me keep the boots and the tiara …).”

Even in comic books, it seems Picoult is destined to use her super writing powers for good.

From the Philadelphia Daily News:

Q: What led to DC landing you for Wonder Woman?

A: An editor at DC Comics read my book “The Tenth Circle,” which had a graphic novel embedded in it that I’d written, and asked if I’d be interested in writing Wonder Woman.

Q: You are best known for writing emotional, character-driven drama. How do you apply that strength to Wonder Woman?

A: I like to think that the reason DC came to me was because of what I could bring to the character. We all know Wonder Woman’s tough and strong – but it’s harder to point to moments where the ordinary reader can really relate to what she’s thinking and feeling.

In a way, what I chose to focus on in Wonder Woman was not very different from what I wrote about in “Nineteen Minutes”: Who are we, at heart? To what extent do we become who our parents want or expect us to be?

What happens if that’s not what we want to be ourselves?

Q: What would you say the differences are between writing novels and comic books?

A: You have to be sensitive to the history of the character in a comic book, instead of making it all up – and you only have 22 pages to tell your story.

You also have to think about pacing and dialogue and action in a way that isn’t necessary in a novel.

And of course, writing a comic book is collaborative [with an artist] – novelists do it solo.

Q: You are one of the first women to write the ongoing adventures of Wonder Woman. Do you feel any pressure?

A: I didn’t feel pressure but I was pretty stunned that I was only the second woman to write her. That seems to be a no-brainer for me. I imagine it’s because comics have been a boy’s club until recently – now we are seeing female writers and editors, etc.

Q: Did you read comics before taking this assignment?

A: As a kid I was a big X-Men fan. I hadn’t read them in some time, except for picking up [former college classmate Jim Lee’s] issues when I saw them on the stands. My 13-year-old son, however, is passionate about them.

Q: Wonder Woman is arguably the most iconic superheroine – in any medium – in the world. Was that daunting?

A: It wasn’t daunting as much as a challenge and an opportunity. Who doesn’t want to be able to leave a fingerprint on an iconic character like her?

Q: She is also 66 years old. That is a lot of history. Did you research the character prior to your run?

A: I read issues dating back to the 1940s as well as more recent ones, so that I could see where the character had been, what villains had dogged her, and most of all, what facets of her personality, other than her strength, had been developed, or left lacking.

Q: Some feel Wonder Woman is dated and wears a ridiculous costume. What’s your view?

A: All I’m gonna say is that any woman knows you can’t fight crime in a bustier. But I love the fact that she’s strong and has muscles and powerful thighs, instead of the anorexic supermodels so many young girls have paraded in front of them as role models today.

Q: What, to you, is the character’s greatest strength?

A: Her unshakable need to do the right thing. Ironically, that just might also be her greatest weakness.

Q: What is your story about?

A: How can you be sure of yourself in one facet of your life, and have doubts in others? Are our personalities molded by duty or desire? Do we become the people others need us to be – like our parents – or do we forge our own stories?

Q: Are you talking about Wonder Woman at your book signings?

A: I am asked about writing Wonder Woman at all my signings. Several fans have brought the comic book through the line for me to sign. I don’t know whether or not the bookstores are ordering extra issues.

Q: What makes Wonder Woman cool and special?

A: Of all the superheroes, she’s the only one with a fighting chance of beating Superman. She’s also, like Superman, not human to begin with – yet chooses to live among them.

What’s it like to live in a world full of people knowing you’ll never really be one of them? And finally – she’s WONDER WOMAN! Everyone knows Wonder Woman! *

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